It’s that time of year again: Christmas time, with all its activity and celebration, to be followed by New Years, when we all make resolutions. Let’s be honest, we all know that most of the time, these resolutions only last a short while. Much has been said about how to actually keep your New Year’s resolutions, and this article is not intended to simply be a repeat of those words of wisdom.
As a matter of fact, I’m not particularly interested in New Years resolutions at all. I’m more interested in New Years plans. Instead of simply making a list of things you want to begin doing (or stop doing) in 2019, why not instead sit down and plan out your entire year?
The idea for this article came from the Staff Planner that my pastor has all of us staff members make every December for the following calendar year. These planners are basically our personal, visual, hard-copy way of reviewing the past year and planning out details of the year ahead.
As I was working on this for the first time this week, I began to realize how valuable of a tool this is. This goes beyond the simple New Years resolution because it goes much deeper. It is not a resolution; it is a plan. Perhaps the reason why so many resolutions aren’t kept is that we don’t formulate a plan of action. Instead, we just come up with an idea that sounds like something we want to do or should do, so we say, “I’m going to do this.” The intentions are pure, but the execution is lacking.
I’d like to offer a model of how to plan out your new year. There’s no rulebook that says you must do it this way. If you don’t, I certainly won’t be offended – this format didn’t even originate with me! It’s simply my restatement of the Staff Planner idea that we as staff members already do at my church. I believe this will be a help for ministry workers everywhere as we look toward a new calendar year in which to serve in the local church.
There are three sections that I have included in my planner:
Review the current ending calendar year. Break this down into your spiritual life, your personal/family life, and your church/ministry life. What were some of the highlights in each of these sections? What were some struggles? What were some failures? Get them down on paper so you can see how God worked last year and what might need to change in the new year.
Set goals in each of these three areas as well: spiritual, family/personal, and ministry. Be specific. What specifically do you plan on changing in your spiritual walk this year? What personal habits will you change? What will you institute in your family life that has not been there before? What new ministry might you be involved in? What new approach might you take to a current ministry that needs revitalizing? Be as specific as you can and know the actions you plan to take.
Detail your upcoming year from a personal and church perspective. Include the dates of all your major Sundays, conferences, and activities. Plan out sermon series. Organize your Bible reading plan. Try to nail down your family vacation dates. Insert dates as deadlines to meet for upcoming events. Look at your goal section and put specific dates/deadlines to the actions that need to be taken to accomplish those goals.
For my Staff Planner for 2019, I began with my review section, containing major personal events in my life this year, good and bad. It contained major events and new opportunities I had in ministry this year, as well as a summary of my devotional life this year.
I then outlined specific goals in each of the three areas, including setting family goals, detailing personal reading goals, naming a new ministry I’d like to be involved in, projecting a different timeline for a big annual project, and explaining my plan to renew my spiritual walk.
I then had my calendar section. I list each month as a heading, and underneath that, I have a spot for general goals. I also list the book I plan to read that month, the Bible section I plan to study that month, specific dates for personal and ministry events that month, and specific dates as deadlines to have “prep work” done for upcoming events.
Hopefully this is a help as you approach the new year. Resolutions are great, but detailed plans are actionable and give you specific reference points to track your progress.
My final word of advice: share your plan with someone close who’ll keep you accountable. We as staff turn in our planners for the following year to our pastor each December, which helps keep us accountable. You may not be as detailed with some of the personal matters on this shared copy, but you should be as specific as you feel you can be.
May God bless your new year of ministry as you strive to serve him more than you did this last year!